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Does contagious yawning mean you’re nice?A)You’re in a conversation with another person and he casually yawns. As you wonder whether he’s bored with the discussion, you find that you’re yawning, too. A man walking by, sees you yawn, and pretty soon he yawns. It’s carried on and on, passing from one person to another in a domino effect. Science is still investigating exactly what makes us yawn, but it’s a well-known and little-studied fact: Yawning is contagious.
B)We know that much of yawning is due to suggestibility—it’s infectious. You don’t need to actually see a person yawn to involuntarily yawn yourself; hearing someone yawn or even reading about yawning can cause the same reaction. Chances are you’ll yawn at least once while reading this article. But contagious yawning goes beyond mere suggestibility. Recent studies show that the phenomenon is also related to our predisposition toward empathy—the ability to understand and connect with others’ emotional states. It sounds strange, but whether or not you’re susceptible to contagious yawning may actually be related to how much empathy you feel for others.
C)Empathy is an important part of cognitive development. We learn from an early age to value ourselves based on the amount and type of empathy our parents display, and developmental psychologists have found that people who weren’t shown empathy by their parents struggle later on in life. A lack of early empathy has been shown to lead to the development of sociopathic behavior in adults. So empathy is important, sure, but how could it possibly be related to contagious yawning? Leave it up to psychologists at Leeds University in England to answer that. In their study, researchers selected 40 psychology students and 40 engineering students. Each student was made to wait individually in a waiting room, along with an undercover assistant who yawned 10 times in as many minutes. The students were then administered an emotional quotient test: Students were shown 40 images of eyes and asked what emotion each one displayed.
D)The results of the test support the idea that contagious yawning is linked to empathy. The psychology students—whose future profession requires them to focus on others—yawned contagiously an average of 5.5 times in the waiting room and scored 28 out of 40 on the emotional test. The engineering students—who tend to focus on things like numbers and systems—yawned an average of 1.5 times and scored 25.5 out of 40 on the following test. The difference doesn’t sound like much, but researchers consider it significant. Strangely, women, who are generally considered more emotionally attuned, didn’t score any higher than men.
E)These findings support what neurologists found through brain imaging: Contagious yawning is associated with the same parts of the brain that deal with empathy. These regions, the precuneus and posterior temporal gyms, are located in the back of the brain. And although the link between contagious yawning and empathy has been established, explanations for the link are still being investigated. Researchers are looking into the world of development disorders and at higher primates for answers to this riddle.
Primate Yawning, Autism and Contagious Yawning
F)Yawning may serve a number of functions, and these functions might be different for different animals. Humans aren’t the only animals that yawn—even fish do. But only humans and chimpanzees, our closest relative in the animal kingdom, have shown definite contagious yawning. One study, conducted in Kyoto, Japan, observed six chimps in captivity. Chimps were shown videos of other chimps yawning, along with chimps that opened their mouths but did not yawn. Of the six, two chimps yawned contagiously a number of times. Even more interesting, like their human counterparts under age 5, the three chimp infants showed no susceptibility to contagious yawning. This may be related to the fact that empathy is taught and learned. If contagious yawning is the result of empathy, then contagious yawning wouldn’t exist until the ability to empathize was learned. But what if empathy is never developed? Another study, led by cognitive researcher Atsushi Senju, sought to answer that question.
G)People with autism spectrum disorder are considered to be developmentally impaired emotionally. Autistics have trouble connecting with others and find it difficult to feel empathy. Since autistics have difficulty feeling empathy, then they shouldn’t be susceptible to contagious yawning. To find out, Senju and his colleagues placed 48 kids aged 7 to 15 in a room with a television. Twenty-four of the test subjects had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, the other half were non-autistic kids. Like the Kyoto chimp study, the test subjects were shown short clips of people yawning as well as clips of people opening their mouths but not yawning. While the kids with autism had the same lack of reaction to both kinds of clips, the non-autistic kids yawned more after the clips of people yawning. But there could be another interpretation to Senju’s findings. Autistics tend to focus on the mouths of people with whom they interact. But contagious yawning is thought to be cued-not by movements in the mouth area—but by changes to the area around the yawning person’s eyes. This could explain why autistics are less susceptible to contagious yawning—perhaps they’re just missing the cues.
H)However, that notion is undermined by another study. Conducted by researchers at Yale University, this study examined the reactions of autistic adults while they watched emotionally charged scenes from the movie, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Researchers found that those autistics who watched the eyes of the characters didn’t register any more emotional reaction than those who focused on the mouth. This indicates that contagious yawning amounts to more than just cues; the autistics who watched the eyes received little information from the cues they found there.
I)It’s become pretty clear that contagious yawning is linked to empathy. But why? Perhaps the best explanation for why we yawn, as well as why yawning is contagious, can be found around the watering hole on the savannah tens of thousands of years ago. Some scientists believe that yawning is an involuntary response to a stressful situation: When we yawn, we increase the blood flow to the brain, thus making us more alert. Contagious yawning may be a method of quiet communication by which our ancestors spread the word that a hungry lion was nearby. Fear is an emotion with which we can empathize, and yawning may serve as a cue by which we spread that fear.
1.[选词填空]Another interpretation to Senju’s findings is that contagious yawning is thought to be cued by changes around the yawning person’s eyes.
    • 解题思路:根据题干信息“contagious yawning is thought to be cued”可以定位到G段“But contagious yawning is thought to be cued—into by movements in the mouth area—but by changes to the area. around the yawning person’s eyes” 意思是“传染性打哈欠受到一定的暗示,这个暗示不是来源于嘴部的活动,而是打哈欠人的眼部的变化”。故匹配段落为G。
    2.[选词填空]According to the Yale University’s study, autistics aren’t susceptible to contagious yawning because They received little information from the cues around people’s eyes.
      • 解题思路:根据题干信息“Yale University:”可以定位到H段“…the autistics who watched the eyes received little information from the cues they found there”意思是“孤独症患者从别人的眼部看不到更多的信息和暗示。”所以他们不容易被传染打哈欠,故匹配段落为H。
      3.[选词填空]Some scientists believe that yawning is just to make us more alert.
        • 解题思路:根据题干信息“some scientists”可以定位到I段“Some scientists believe that yawning is an involuntary response to a stressful situation: When we yawn, we increase the blood flow to the brain, thus making us more alert.” 意思是“一些科学家认为打哈欠是我们在紧张状态下的一种不自觉的反应。当我们打哈欠时,血液流向大脑,使我们更警惕”。故匹配段落为I。
        4.[选词填空]Whether or not you’re easily influenced by contagious yawning may be linked to how much empathy you feel for others.
          • 解题思路:根据题干信息可以定位到B段中的“It sounds strange, but whether or not you’re susceptible to contagious yawning may actually be related to how much empathy you feel for others.” 意思是“你是否容易受到打哈欠的传染,与你对别人的移情程度有关”。故匹配段落为B
          5.[选词填空]Early empathy is important for us in that it affects our later life a lot.
            • 解题思路:根据题干信息“early empathy” 可以定位到C段中的“A lack of early empathy has been shown to lead to the development of sociopathic behavior in adults.” 意思是“如果缺少了早期的移情长大后就会发展成反社会的行为”。由此可以推断出早期的移情很重要,因它会影响人日后的发展,故匹配段落为C。
            6.[选词填空]The results of the Leeds University’s test show that contagious yawning and empathy are related to the same parts of the brain.
              • 解题思路:根据题干信息“the results of the Leeds University’s test”可以定位到E段。由E段中“Contagious yawning is associated with the same parts of the brain that deal with empathy. ”可知。故匹配段落为E。
              7.[选词填空]Contagious yawning wouldn’t exist unless the ability to empathize is learned.
                • 解题思路:根据题干信息“contagious yawning wouldn’t exist”可以定位到F段中的“If contagious yawning is the result of empathy, then contagious yawning wouldn’t exist until the ability to empathize was learned.” 意思是“如果传染性打哈欠是移情作用的结果,那么传染性打哈欠只有当学会移情的时候才会存在”。故匹配段落为F。
                8.[选词填空]The reason why contagious yawning is linked to empathy was not clear.
                  • 解题思路:根据题干信息“contagious yawning is linked to empathy”和“why”可以定位到I段“ Perhaps the best explanation for why we yawn, as well as why yawning is contagious, can be found around the watering hole on the savannah tens of thousands of years ago.” 意思是“也许为什么我们会打哈欠以及打哈欠问什么会传染,这些问题最好的解释要从千万年以前的产生生命的大草原上才可以找到答案。”由此可以推断出打哈欠会传染的原因目前还没有定论,故匹配段落为I。
                  9.[选词填空]Autistics are less susceptible to contagious yawning because they have difficulty feeling empathy.
                    • 解题思路:根据题干信息“autistics”和“susceptible to contagious yawning”可以定位到G段“Since autistics have difficulty feeling empathy, then they shouldn’t be susceptible to contagious yawning.”意思是“孤独症患者在移情方面有困难,所以他们不容易被打哈欠传染。”故匹配段落为G。
                    10.[选词填空]Women were supposed to score higher than men in the test, but actually they didn’t.
                      • 解题思路:根据题干信息可以定位到D段“Strangely, women, who are generally considered more emotionally attuned, didn’t score any higher than men.”意思是“奇怪的是,通常被认为是情感较协调的女性在实验中的分数却并不比男性高。”故匹配段落为D。
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